The boy from Barbados certainly grabbed headlines in 2022 but it’s what his 2023 season holds in store that has Zane Maloney excited. After his stunning ending to his rookie Formula 3 campaign – three consecutive Feature Race wins as part of an almost title-clinching charge – Maloney steps up to Formula 2 with Rodin Carlin for a highly-anticipated follow up.

His switch to Carlin is a return to home of sorts. It was a winning combination back in 2019 in British F4 following what was Maloney’s first season in car racing. Anticipating another strong year with the British outfit, the 19-year-old says that he has plenty to bring to the table.

“It feels great to be back with Carlin. I did British F4 for my first year in single seaters with them and they taught me so much. We were able to win the Championship, so linking back up with Carlin is a great opportunity for me to show my pace and show what I've learned since I've been gone.

“Hopefully we’ll be winning some races this year and just doing the best job that we can. I’m sure that they're gonna give me a great car. I can't wait because I keep stepping up in my career and this is where I really need to show what I'm about and what I can do. This is the year that I need to do that so I'm looking forward to getting started.”

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His return to Carlin also provides him with a working relationship that already has some foundation. Though it has been a few years since Maloney last worked with the outfit, his years away have brought more success and plenty of lessons he will now be bringing back with him.

Carlin also has been improving in their own right. After winning the title in the first season of F2 back in 2018, Carlin has improved year after year, following P4 in 2019 up with back-to-back third-place finishes. The team achieved a runner up finish in the Teams’ Standings in 2022 and narrowly missing out on the Championship in a three-way battle last year.

So Maloney’s return to Carlin coincides with an upward trajectory the team is currently on, and with Enzo Fittipaldi alongside him in 2023, the signs point to another strong campaign for the combination.

“I know I've grown so much as a person and as a driver since 2019. So it's kind of a different relationship now I'm a bit more grown up let's say. I'm looking forward to getting to work with them again, but it is a positive to have worked with almost everyone in the team four years ago and know how they work, what they like, and how to get on with them.

READ MORE: Fittipaldi: Carlin switch and Red Bull faith the biggest opportunity of my career

“I've been in England at the factory doing lots of different things, simulator training, and just generally getting ready for the season with Carlin. I’m putting in a lot of work and, to be honest, I do have to thank everyone at Trident for giving me the mindset that I have now and working really hard because all those guys, they work very hard every day, so they've helped me a lot. Now it's time for me to show it in my next step of my career.

“Of course, it's a great opportunity with Red Bull, them believing in me and allowing me to step up to F2 with a great team. I just need to do the job out on track and everything off track will work out very well. It’s great to have the Red Bull colours on my helmet and on my car and now I just need to try to put that into performance as well.”

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Heading into the 2023 season, Maloney already has an F2 start under his belt having made a one-off appearance with Trident. His deputising at the final round at Yas Marina was followed by the three-day post-season test with Carlin.

It all added up to invaluable time in the type of car he will be at the wheel of next season and gives him a headstart of sorts going into pre-season testing in Bahrain. Plenty of the F3 rookies stepping up to F2 also took part in the post-season test last year. But Maloney’s race weekend experience is an important factor, though one he won't be solely reliant upon come lights out in Sakhir in March.

READ MORE: Stanek: Continuity with Trident will help in early rounds of 2023 season

“It's only going to be a positive to have driven the F2 car with more than one team and also more than once already. Of course, I need to get used to the Carlin and really get working with the team. But I'm grateful for the opportunity I had in in Abu Dhabi and for sure, it will help me going into the season.

“Then, testing in Abu Dhabi, it's three days where there's no pressure and you're able to really push the limits without any repercussions, you really do learn a lot. But to be honest, I'm ready to go racing so I can't wait for round one in Bahrain.”

With the seven Championship contenders graduating up the pyramid, this year’s Formula 2 grid is looking very interesting. With contenders from last season using their experiences from last season, it could be a tough start to the 2023 season for the new arrivals.

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That doesn’t dissuade Maloney from setting his expectations high and aiming to carry his strong finish to 2022 into the new campaign. Fighting at the front of the field and a top three in the Championship are the aims for the Barbadian driver once again.

“This Championship is very tough, and I think especially this year, there's a lot of contenders and we don't really know where anyone's going to be right now. It's the top seven from F3 from 2022 and, apart from two or three, the top seven in F2 from last year as well. So it's a very tough year this season.

READ MORE: Rising to the Challenge of F2 – Brad Benavides

“For me it's business as usual. I do set targets for myself, not in terms of position but I do know as a driver where I should be if I do a good job. So I know that if I do everything I can off the track and prepare as well as I can that I will be close to the front. That gives me motivation to try to work as hard as I can.

“Of course, to be with Red Bull now is amazing. To be on the edge of Formula 1, which is my dream. It has given me even more motivation. I would like to finish top three in the Championship to be honest, that's a realistic and also ambitious goal, which I'm always up for.”